Author Topic: In the New Yorker...  (Read 862838 times)

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #2280 on: January 03, 2020, 10:06:20 am »
Meanwhile, I've got bogged down on the piece about the Ukrainian prosecutor. There's a duty article if I ever saw one.
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Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #2281 on: January 03, 2020, 12:39:08 pm »
He also said, "They're not being called out and made to either look cool or weird." So the thing is, the gay couple was just there. There were no gay PDAs, nobody was waving a rainbow flag to say, "Hey, Hallmark viewers, we're gay!"

This sort of thing I do welcome--the "not being called out," or having attention called to them.
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I think that's a very important point and one I'm always trying to make to R, that people don't like to be called out for their preferences, either negatively or positively. They--we--just want to be quietly accepted and appreciated for who we are, individuals. Agree?
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Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #2282 on: January 03, 2020, 01:14:46 pm »
I think that's a very important point and one I'm always trying to make to R, that people don't like to be called out for their preferences, either negatively or positively. They--we--just want to be quietly accepted and appreciated for who we are, individuals. Agree?

Definitely.
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline serious crayons

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #2283 on: January 04, 2020, 11:06:51 am »
Of course I can't and wouldn't presume to speak for people of color, but my reaction to gay people/couples in commercials is, and probably will remain, "It's an effen commercial trying to sell something. Who gives a shit whether people in it are gay or straight?" Do they really think that more gay people will buy their product because they have gay people in their commercials? (Maybe they do, and maybe they're correct. There are an awful lot of stupid gay people out there who will no doubt fall for that.)

I'm writing an essay/article about women in TV commercials as we speak, which may be why I've noticed there are suddenly way more characters of color than there used to be. I've even wondered whether there are more black people than white people in commercials these days, as if making up for lost time.

I don't see advertising as quite as sinister as you do. Maybe because my mom worked in advertising and I have (briefly) worked in copywriting that included ads. I don't think advertisers are saying "let's use an actor from a marginalized community so we'll get more buyers from that community" in some scheming way of tricking dupes. Since their mission is to sell products, of course selling to diverse consumers would be an objective. But also I think they, like most companies these days, are simply starting to value diversity. I worked part time for a medical devices company that did a lot of diversity outreach -- for instance, helped sponsor a GLAAD gala. Their motives, as far as I could tell, were to get the most qualified employees, and the bigger the potential hiring pool the better. In that case, they wouldn't be trying to get gay people to buy their products. If you need a pacemaker, you most likely won't even think about brands; the doctor will choose one for you.

Newspapers has been working to diversify since at least the '90s. There's partly a sales motive, I guess-- seeing a Latinx or Somali byline would probably appeal to readers in those communities. But you can't always tell by a byline whether someone is black. So again, it's a mix of "the right thing to do" with getting more diverse perspectives in the building.

By the way, the newspapers' push to hire more journalists of color generally didn't really extend to sexual orientation, probably because there are already plenty of gay people working at newspapers.

Back to gay couples in commercials, I've seen only one and it was a Father's Day ad that showed all these dads doing extreme sports with their kids, like hang gliding and so on. But there's one peaceful scene where one man is rocking a baby in a darkish room and another man leans over and gives him a kiss on the forehead. It seemed kind of weird that the only gay people in the commercial were not doing extreme sports, but then again, the other dads aren't necessarily straight; they aren't identified one way or another.

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Come to think of it, I can't think of the last time I saw a commercial featuring people of color who weren't at least upper Middle Class, if not higher. But then maybe the target audience of the commercial is  people of color who are top-flight lawyers and likely to buy a Lexus.)

I've seen very few commercials with characters of any race who aren't middle to upper-middle class. That just seems logical to me. Consumers don't identify with really rich people and advertisers don't want to associate their product with poverty. Ad content is supposed to be relatable or aspirational.

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So the thing is, the gay couple was just there. There were no gay PDAs, nobody was waving a rainbow flag to say, "Hey, Hallmark viewers, we're gay!"

But that's what I'm talking about. Having gay characters being just normal people, whether it's running an animal shelter or buying dish soap like straight people do. Yes, they might want to appeal to gay viewers and consumers but what they're also doing is getting straight audiences to see gay people as average Americans.

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BTW, I do take commercials as a category apart from scripted TV shows.

Of course. I was just talking about media images in general.

Until recent years, the only time I ever saw gay couples presented as just average folks is in home-decorating articles in newspapers and magazines. They've been doing it for decades.




Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #2284 on: January 04, 2020, 12:42:04 pm »
I don't see advertising as quite as sinister as you do. Maybe because my mom worked in advertising and I have (briefly) worked in copywriting that included ads. I don't think advertisers are saying "let's use an actor from a marginalized community so we'll get more buyers from that community" in some scheming way of tricking dupes. Since their mission is to sell products, of course selling to diverse consumers would be an objective. But also I think they, like most companies these days, are simply starting to value diversity.

Well, I'm willing to entertain the notion that my views boil down to being a gay man of a certain age, but I do not believe they are doing this because they are "starting to value diversity." It all comes down to money. We're not talking philanthropic organizations here. Best I can give them is that they're giving themselves a pat on the back for how evolved they are for featuring gay characters, but even that isn't very good. They don't give a damn about gay people as gay people.


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I worked part time for a medical devices company that did a lot of diversity outreach -- for instance, helped sponsor a GLAAD gala. Their motives, as far as I could tell, were to get the most qualified employees, and the bigger the potential hiring pool the better. In that case, they wouldn't be trying to get gay people to buy their products. If you need a pacemaker, you most likely won't even think about brands; the doctor will choose one for you.

Yeah, but that's different. Or not. "Let's sponsor a gay event because it's an event for gay people." I really don't see companies wanting to hire gay people because they're gay any differently than companies firing gay people because they're gay. Just two sides of the same coin.


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Back to gay couples in commercials, I've seen only one and it was a Father's Day ad that showed all these dads doing extreme sports with their kids, like hang gliding and so on. But there's one peaceful scene where one man is rocking a baby in a darkish room and another man leans over and gives him a kiss on the forehead. It seemed kind of weird that the only gay people in the commercial were not doing extreme sports, but then again, the other dads aren't necessarily straight; they aren't identified one way or another.

I'll give one a pass. Back around Thanksgiving I once say a commercial (I saw it last year, too) featuring a large white family gathering for a holiday dinner. The door opens, and in comes a young-ish white man along with a young-ish black man. They are later shown seated at the table with everyone else.

Of course, they were hitting two demographics at once, there: Gay and Black.


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But that's what I'm talking about. Having gay characters being just normal people, whether it's running an animal shelter or buying dish soap like straight people do. Yes, they might want to appeal to gay viewers and consumers but what they're also doing is getting straight audiences to see gay people as average Americans.

See, I see a categorical difference between a gay couple in a scripted drama and a gay couple in a commercial (except, of course, the whole point of the Hallmark channel is to see Hallmark products).
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Until recent years, the only time I ever saw gay couples presented as just average folks is in home-decorating articles in newspapers and magazines. They've been doing it for decades.

That's also playing to a gay stereotype.

As for commercials being aspirational, I guess I see that as a whole other issue. "Buy our product and you, too, will have a nice house in an upscale community with a designer kitchen."
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #2285 on: January 04, 2020, 12:43:16 pm »
I guess we're straying form The New Yorker, aren't we?
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline serious crayons

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #2286 on: January 04, 2020, 05:33:29 pm »
Well, I'm willing to entertain the notion that my views boil down to being a gay man of a certain age, but I do not believe they are doing this because they are "starting to value diversity." It all comes down to money. We're not talking philanthropic organizations here. Best I can give them is that they're giving themselves a pat on the back for how evolved they are for featuring gay characters, but even that isn't very good. They don't give a damn about gay people as gay people.

Well, of course everything a publicly traded company does comes down to money. But they're not being philanthropic, they're trying to project an image -- to straight as well as gay viewers -- of progressiveness, which they feel will help them sell products. And sure, they may be trying to appeal to gay consumers. But note that they're not worried about the risk of offending homophobic consumers. Most of all, they want to appeal to as many customers as they can. It's really not a sinister process, it's how businesses work. (Not that businesses never do anything sinister, of course! They do sinister things all the time. I just don't happen to think this is one of them.)

To say they "don't give a damn about gay people" is like saying they don't give a damn about any of their customers. If somebody has money and wants to buy soap or whatever, the company gives a damn about them. In most cases, they probably aren't particularly homophobic in the way you're implying. For one thing, a lot of advertising professionals are gay themselves. Back in the 1970s and '80s when my mom was in advertising, she had lots of gay coworkers.

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Yeah, but that's different. Or not. "Let's sponsor a gay event because it's an event for gay people." I really don't see companies wanting to hire gay people because they're gay any differently than companies firing gay people because they're gay. Just two sides of the same coin.

No, my company didn't want to hire gay people because they're known to be particularly good at developing medical devices. They wanted to hire gay people because they wanted whoever was the best at developing medical devices, whether gay or straight, and apparently they thought reaching out in that way would help increase the pool of potential candidates.

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Back around Thanksgiving I once say a commercial (I saw it last year, too) featuring a large white family gathering for a holiday dinner. The door opens, and in comes a young-ish white man along with a young-ish black man. They are later shown seated at the table with everyone else.

Of course, they were hitting two demographics at once, there: Gay and Black.

OK, but why do you see that as cynical or worse? They're showing a gay couple in an ordinary -- even family and celebratory! -- environment, which must be helpful to diminishing homophobia in the general population as well as selling products to gay consumers. How would it be better if commercials only showed straight white people?

Lots of people, myself included, boycotted Chik-Fil-A for its homophobic politics (recently rescinded, I guess). Why wouldn't companies that aren't led by homophobic CEOs want to go in the other direction to generate good will?

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That's also playing to a gay stereotype.

Yeah, but they're not "playing into it." The job of people who write about home decorating is to find people with cool homes and write about them. Often they involve couples, and many of those couples are gay. The magazine or newspaper would run the stories just like they do with straight couples.

Of course, the rest of the newspaper would quote gay people, too, in contexts where their sexual orientation was not obvious or relevant. But only relatively recently (past 20 years or so) have they begun covering issues involving sexual orientation or gender identity. It's not that they were necessarily homophobic or transphobic -- if they did mention them they didn't demonize them, but just didn't get into the subjects much at all.

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As for commercials being aspirational, I guess I see that as a whole other issue. "Buy our product and you, too, will have a nice house in an upscale community with a designer kitchen."

Yeah, but the way advertising works is not quite so overt. When you see a commercial with Matthew McConaughey driving a Lincoln, you don't think, "I should buy a Lincoln so I'll look every bit as great as Matthew McConaughey does." But at some level it registers as positive. Which is why they don't show an overweight, unattractive, poorly dressed person driving the Lincoln. That applies to other products and, as you noted, class is as much an issue as other demographic factors.


Offline serious crayons

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #2287 on: January 04, 2020, 05:34:19 pm »
I guess we're straying form The New Yorker, aren't we?

Perhaps a bit.  ;D  I need to catch up on my New Yorkers so I'll have something to say about them.

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #2288 on: January 05, 2020, 05:52:21 pm »
Tell you what, I wouldn't use sinister to describe my view on the actions of advertisers. The word I would use is cynical--to describe myself as well as the advertisers.
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline serious crayons

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #2289 on: January 05, 2020, 08:12:53 pm »
Fair enough. Id say the same about myself.  :)